Students in U.S. Falling Behind in Math and Science


In light of the recent events surrounding the controversy behind Obama’s speech to students, one may ask is it politics, or is it right on time?

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that children in the United States do not show signs of losing intelligence, but they’re not getting any smarter either. In a study released Tuesday, Duncan says students who show no signs of intellectual

growth will have difficulties competing in a global market.

According to CNN, the study done by National Center for Education statistics compared 15-year-old students in the U.S. to those in other countries in the Organization for Economic Development.

The report shows that U.S. students scored the lowest in Math and Science. With Math in particular, U.S. high schoolers scored in the bottom quarter of all the countries that participated, including Finland, China and Estonia.

The report also showed that U.S. students who tested in 2003 scored the same in 2006. In short, while other countries are improving, the U.S. remains at a standstill. In Science, U.S. students fell behind Canada, Japan and the Czech Republic.

Duncan stood before a room full of science and math experts of the National Board Tuesday morning and is convinced the U.S. will fall short when competing internationally. “We are lagging the rest of the world, and we are lagging it in pretty substantial ways,” he said.

“I think we have become complacent. We’ve sort of lost our way.”

Duncan was quick to admit that the U.S. is in great need of good Math and Science teachers. He suggested that in order to fix the problem, “I think we should pay math and science teachers a lot more money. We pay everybody the same. We have areas of critical need — math, science, foreign language, special education in some places. I think we need to pay a premium for that.”

The National Education Association, which represents educators, strongly disagrees with such a proposal.

“Simply being a teacher of a hard-to-staff subject does not equate with effective instruction, and therefore, should not be rewarded in-and-of-itself through a salary differential,” the organization says in a position statement.

The fourth and eight graders who tested in mathematics improved their average scores compared to European students, however, fail to compete with Asian students from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Singapore.

“It has huge implications,” Duncan said. “I think as a real economic imperative we have to educate our way to a better economy.”

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